VANCOUVER, Wash. — Authorities charged a man Friday with vehicular homicide in a sledding accident that killed his 9-year-old daughter last winter.
Peter Gecho was pulling the girl, Madison, in an inner tube behind his pickup truck when the tube slammed into a low brick wall Jan. 16, according to Clark County Superior Court documents. Witnesses told police Gecho had been drinking and that the girl was not wearing a helmet, prosecutors contend.
The inner tube was attached to the truck by a rope as Gecho drove along snowy country roads to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Senior Deputy Prosecutor James David wrote in a probable cause affidavit. Several other people were in the bed of the truck.
On the school grounds, Gecho revved the engine and began spinning "doughnuts" as the tube sailed behind. The tube slammed against a low brick wall at an estimated 20 mph, killing the girl. An 18-year-old man also riding in the tube soared over the wall and suffered only bruises.
Gecho drove his daughter to a hospital, one that turned out not to have a trauma surgeon. Had he called 911, paramedics from a nearby fire station would have taken her to one in Portland, Ore., that was better equipped to handle her injuries, David wrote.
Gecho's lawyer, Thomas Phelan, called the charge "a travesty." He said his client is innocent and would never have deliberately harmed Madison.
"This was nothing but a tragic accident," he said. "His life has been, as one might expect, incredibly empty since his daughter died. This simply adds to the emptiness."
Gecho is due for an initial court appearance Nov. 6.
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